Competence Not Tribal Identity Should Determine Buhari’s Successor in 2023, Says Okorocha
POLITICS DIGEST – Senator Rochas Okorocha is a former Governor of Imo State. In this interview, the federal lawmaker representing Imo West speaks on the country’s electoral process, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the kind of President Nigeria should have in 2023, and the clamour for Igbo presidency among others. Excerpts:
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to stakeholders of the APC not to allow the party to die after his exit. Are the major stakeholders willing to stay with the party after the exit of the President in 2023?
I have on several occasions expressed my fears about the APC and what happens to APC after the exit of Buhari. I have said this repeatedly and my fear is not far-fetched. Mr President has made an appeal to the party leadership, which is what he ought to do. But I think the party requires some structural redesigns to be able to carry the party across 2023. When we run party on the basis of sentiments, we are going to still have the kind of problems the PDP had in the time past.
For God’s sake, if someone is not doing a proper job, he should be shown the way out so that others who can do the job can take over and do it. We have more than 100 million people in this country and we can find people who can do a particular job. But when we put ourselves for sentiments, then we are going to have a lot of challenges. No party ever survives with crises.
On daily basis, you hear APC with crisis here and there. Anytime a football team is not doing well, don’t blame the players, we should blame the coach. If the coach needs to be fired for things to get better, fire the coach and get a new coach to train the people and win the match. So, this is my strong suggestion that has been misconstrued.
The appeal of Mr President is okay, but more has to be done in terms of reorganizing the entire party. And a party that doesn’t respect the organs of the party is bound to fail. We don’t have Board of Trustees (BoT) meetings. We don’t have National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings, and we don’t have the organs of the party functioning. We don’t even have committees that are working. So, that is not a party. We need to call spade a spade, get things right and do it rightly. Then, everybody would be fine for it and the party would pick up so that the whole idea of forming APC would not be in vain.
The growing number of out-of-school children is a serious time-bomb. Recently, the United Nations statistics showed that 13 million children are currently out of school and the bulk of this number is coming from the North East part of the country. How do you think government can come in to stop this situation before degenerating to security challenges?
You cannot separate the economy of Nigeria from this very out-of-school problem. The out-of-school children and the economy are related in one way or the other and that is not also far away from violence, Boko Haram, kidnapping … wherever you see poverty, there is a high tendency of violence and crisis. They are interwoven. So, I have said severally at the floor of the Senate that this is a time-bomb waiting to explode. So, it has called for a serious concern. As an individual, I have done what I can do by building several schools and having over 22,000 indigent children going to my schools without having to pay for school fees. But one thing that Nigeria has failed to understand is that, the money coming from oil can no longer sustain our economy. And because of that, the problem will not stop and there is no magic to it. The economy has to be right to be able to address this issue of out-of-school children. The only answer to it is one, cut down the cost of governance and diversify the economy. Meanwhile, the immediate quick one is to cut down the cost of governance. If you remember the last time I said one Senator per State, it created a hullaballoo across the nation. I saw that as a sacrifice. The executive also has to make a huge sacrifice to save some funds and direct it towards solving the problem of out-of-school children. Right now, we have to call for the declaration of state of emergency in the education sector by inviting good spirited individuals to build schools.
When you talk about changing the table, are you talking about Comrade Adams Oshiomhole?
Why do you want to change a leadership that recorded victories in Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections? You said that they have recorded victories, Good! But I don’t want to speak about those elections. What I’m talking about is internal crises in the party. What makes up an election is not just about winning governorship poll. It is the winning of Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not just the winning of governorship election because the person that caused the whole thing is the President.
Do you think the APC will go into Presidency with this kind of state of mind and win election at the national level? You should also know that whether you like it or not, the Presidential influence has a lot to do with any local election of any sitting government. Nobody wants to be in opposition. As far as President Buhari is seated, even the worst of person in any state already has an advantage even before starting the election because there is a sitting government in power from your party. What I’m talking about is that when that seat of Presidency is becoming vacant, who fills it up? That is how you judge the success of any party.
Some leaders in the North have been saying that the Presidency should remain in the North beyond 2023. How do you see this vis-à-vis the general understanding that the power should be rotated?
I believe that power must be given to he that has vision irrespective of where he comes from because tribe cannot put food at the table of the common man, neither will it guarantee security. I always make fun of those, even within the state, that say our zone has not governed, this zone has not governed. As you see the politics of today, everybody looks up to the North whether South-South, South-West or South-East, for shopping of votes because North has the large chunk of votes to determine who becomes the President of Nigeria.
One good thing I know of the North, especially the Islamic world, is that a good Muslim is a man of conscience who believes in equity, justice and unity. That is the tripod upon which Islam is rested upon. So, that is the only hope for anybody who wants to contest from the southern region. The North can say for the purpose of equity and not showing tribal and religious differences, that the North having served as President, having gone round, let somebody from the south be the President. It is only on that basis. So, the Igbo alone cannot make themselves the President. The quicker they come together and start shoring up for support from the north and other parts of the region the better it is to realise the dream.
I know, one day, we shall come up to that point when positions of who becomes the President would not be based on sentiments of where you come from, tribe or religion. The issue there is that we need somebody who can move this country forward, somebody, who can guarantee the food on the table of common man, create jobs and make Nigeria the Dubai of Africa or become Japan of Africa or become a great nation of Africa, which the continent will be looking up to. What Nigeria needs now is that man who would emerge as President and continue with unity of Nigerians just as we see ourselves during football matches that will create jobs and guarantee security.
Via: Daily Trust